Calendula officinalis – L. is a flower native to Southern Europe known for its deep yellow-orange bloom and importance historically in European herbal medicine.

Scientific Name: Calendula officinalis – L.
Common Name: Calendula, pot marigold
Plant Family: Asteraceae or Compositae

Etymology: The name calendula comes from the Latin word “calens”, which means “first day of each month” and refers to the fact that in mild native regions, calendula can bloom year round.

Traditional Uses

While calendula is not native to the US, it has a rich history as being an important medicinal plant in the history of European herbal medicine.

Medicinal uses 

Calendula's most well-known application is as a topical treatment of skin wounds such as stings, bites, rashes, and even varicose veins. It can also be taken to treat fevers and infections. The crushed stems have been used to remove warts. Medicinal applications of the plant are known to alleviate inflammation, serve as an antiseptic, have antispasmodic medicinal applications, laxative properties, and more. Overall calendula has been used for a wide variety of medicinal purposes.

Edible Parts

The leaves and flowers of the calendula are edible and have high vitamin and mineral content. The flowers are more commonly consumed than the leaves. Fresh flower petals can be added to salads and dried petals can be used as a seasoning, saffron substitute, and to make tea.

Gathering and Using

Once flowering, petals and whole flowers, which are the most commonly used part of calendula, can be harvested and used raw or dried both for their medical properties and edible quality.

Permaculture Functions and Considerations 

Calendula can be used in differing ways for human consumption including teas, seasoning, and as a salad add-in. Calendula also has a rich history of medical purposes listed above. It attracts wildlife including butterflies, bees, and benefitable insects such as hoverflies. It can also make a good addition to compost and has been suggested to quicken the breakdown of compost. Calendula provides a yellow dye that can be for a wide variety of purposes including being used to lighten hair color. The flowers are known to close when rain is expected and so they have culturally been used as a rough predictor for weather. 


While calendula prefers moist well drained soil, it can tolerate a wide variety of soil acidity including very acidic and very basic soils. It also tolerates nutrient poor soil. While calendula can be grown in part shade, its preference is full sun.

How to Identify

Calendula has a deep yellow-orange bloom and the stems of the plant have fine hairs covering them. It typically grows to be roughly 15 inches tall and the plant spreads to be about 1 foot wide.

Wildlife Support

Calendula attracts pollinators such as butterflies and bees. It is also known to attract certain beneficial insects such as hoverflies which can eat and help in the control of aphids.

Additional Information

Calendula can be made into a hair wash or added to shampoo to naturally lighten hair. A yellow dye can also be made from the flowers.


Planting Considerations

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11
  • Native Range: Southern Europe
  • Forest Garden Layer: Herb
  • Height: up to 15 inches
  • Spread: up to 12 inches
  • Growth rate: moderate to rapid
  • Sun: full sun to part shade
  • Bloom: Yellow-orange flowers from late spring to mid fall
  • Attracts: Beneficial insects such as hoverflies, pollinators such as bees and butterflies
  • Tolerates: nutrient poor soil, very acidic and basic soils, temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit (full hardy).
  • Drawbacks: Calendula can be suspectable to cucumber mosaic disease and powdery mildew  
  • Soil moisture: moist
  • Soil texture: can grow in sandy, loamy, and clay soils, prefers well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: While calendula prefer to grow in neutral or mildly acidic or basic soils, they can tolerate very acidic and basic soils

Plant profile by Holly Myers '23